Differential expression of the α2,3-sialic acid residues in breast cancer is associated with metastatic potential
- Hongxia Cui
- Yu Lin
- Liling Yue
- Xuemei Zhao
- Jicheng Liu
Published online on: February 22, 2011
Aberrant sialylation is closely associated with the malignant phenotype of cancer cells and metastatic potential. However, the precise nature of the molecules in breast cancers has not been unveiled. In this study, we investigated the expression levels of α2,3-sialic acid residues of 50 primary tumor cases, 50 pair-matched lymph node metastasis tumor samples and in the MDA-MB-231, T-47D and MCF-7 breast cancer cell lines with different metastatic potential. The expression of α2,3-sialic acid residues was analyzed by histochemistry, cytochemistry and flow cytometry with Maackia amurensis lectin (MAL). The invasion and migration abilities of cells were examined using cell adhesion and transwell in vitro assays. Pair-matched lymph node metastasis tumor samples exhibited higher levels of expression of α2,3-sialic acid residues compared to that of primary tumors (P=0.0432). Furthermore, of 38 tumors cases in T1/T2 stages, 31 (81.58%) had weak staining for MAL, which specifically binds to α2,3-sialic acid residues, whereas of 12 tumor cases in T3/T4 stages, only 1 (8.33%) had weak reactions for MAL. The highly metastatic breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231 exhibited the strongest binding to MAL and the highest expression levels of α2,3-sialic acid residues among the selected cell lines, depending on mRNA expression levels of α2,3-sialyltransferase gene. The adhesion, invasion and migration activities confirmed that MDA-MB-231 exhibited the greater cell adhesion to, migration toward and invasion to Matrigel. Taken together, the high expression of α2,3-sialic acid residues in breast cancer was associated with metastatic potential. This property may be important for developing new therapeutic approaches for breast cancer.